TTC shows off its new wheels

The next generation of commuting in Toronto is almost here.

The Toronto Transit Commission showed off a mock version of its brand new Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) between November 11-15 and the public was invited to take a look at the new machine and give feedback.

The LRV’s will have more seats, wider doors, air conditioning, and bicycle accommodation. Each streetcar will have 70 seats and can hold over 251 people. Passengers will be allowed board from all four doors and will collect transfers through an automated proof of purchase system onboard the new cars.

TTC user Josh Skinner, a daily rider, says the new LRV’s are a big step in the right direction and a major improvement.

“They will begin to solve some of the many problems on Toronto’s streetcar lines,” Skinner said. “One of the best things about them is that they are significantly longer.”

One of the more popular new features on the LRV’s is four doors opening instead two.

“I have definitely have been crushed at the front door on the Spadina line,” frequent rider Mark Jackson-Brown said. “The new design will be so much better.”

The LRV’s will all be low floor and will have a ramp which will allow those with strollers or wheelchairs to ride the streetcar, a new feature.

“Low floor should be mandatory on all transit vehicles,” Skinner said. “It makes transit accessible for those who need it. Since we all pay for transit it should be accessible for everyone.”

The current streetcars were built between 1977 and 1989. They are only 15-metres long while the new ones are 30-metres.

The TTC has ordered 204 LRV’s from Bombardier, which are being assembled in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

According to TTC engineer Steve Lam, each individual car costs about $5 million, including spare parts and labour. The TTC estimates the overall cost of the upgrades to be approximately $1 billion.

The LRV’s are expected to begin service in 2014 and the current fleet to be completely replaced by 2018. The mock LRV on display showed the first three cars and is not the final version.

“The basic design is all there,” Lam said. “We are still gathering information, but we are not looking at any more drastic changes.”

“It provides convenience and comfort,” Lam said. “It’s going to be great for the public.”

According to the TTC’s website the current streetcar network has 11 routes and carries roughly 285,000 people per day.

Some of the small complaints about the LRV’s were focused at the front of vehicle.

“There is a small section at the front where there is a single seat and it doesn’t extend,” Jackson-Brown said. “So now there is just this little extra space that they could have used.”

Skinner is looking forward to seeing the TTC’s newest ride roam through the streets of Toronto.

“I believe this is the right step for the TTC. It will help alleviate overcrowding on the streetcars,” he said.